Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

September is Suicide Prevention Month

September 13, 2016

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 42,773 people on average die by suicide each year and 117 people die by suicide each day. Suicide is tragic and devastating, but it is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate and keep your loved ones safe.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Contact a mental health professional or the hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you hear or see someone exhibiting one or more of these behaviors.

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped like there’s no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family & society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes

In some cases it may be too late for help from a suicide hotline and the person may be on the brink of a suicide attempt. Call 911 if you see or hear the following:

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself.
  • Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, we want you to know that help is available and recovery is possible. Learn the warning signs, and do whatever you can to get yourself or someone you care about to the help they need so that they can return to living mentally well. For more information on suicide prevention, please visit:


Mental Illness Plays a Role in Repeat DUIs

November 19, 2015

Roughly 60% of repeat drunk-driving offenders have suffered major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Researchers studied people convicted of at least two DUI offenses during the past 10 years. A majority reported mental-health problems as well as alcohol or other drug dependency; female repeat DUI offenders were more likely than men to suffer from depression or PTSD.

“People who deal with drug and alcohol abusers need to understand there are often other disorders that need to be dealt with as well,” said lead researcher Sandra Lapham, MD, MPH, director of PIRE’s Behavioral Health Research Center. “That’s why we need to screen repeat offenders for multiple disorders. The offender should be viewed as a unique person with a unique set of issues. If they include psychiatric problems, these should be treated along with drug and alcohol issues.”

“The results of this study should encourage the courts to develop a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the hard-to-treat drinking driver,” added Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Eric J. Bloch. “Assessing the mental health of a DUI offender will help us choose the program that will reduce the change of a re-offense.”

The research was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. (Reference: Lapham, S.C., C’de Baca, J., McMillan, G.P. and Lapidus, J. Psychiatric Disorder in a Sample of Repeat Impaired Driving Offenders, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67(5): 707-713.)

Another new report recommends that people arrested for drunk driving should be tested for other drug use and mental illness as well. The Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, NM, studied 612 women and 493 men, aged 23 to 54, who were convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The research established that 32% of the women and 38% of the men were found to use other drugs besides alcohol, compared to 16% and 21%, respectively, in the general population. This report is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Hoarding: When Too Much is Not Enough

October 31, 2014

Many people struggle to maintain cluttered or disorganized homes, but when someone compulsively collects items in a way that cause health problems or other difficulties for that individual or others in the home or neighborhood (or for pets), it is possible that the person is actually suffering for a mental health disorder. Hoarding seems to be linked with anxiety and difficulty making decisions. It can be effectively treated.

Hoarding sometimes gets mentioned in the news when people keep large groups of animals, but it is more common to hoard food or belongings. Hoarding is not well-known or well-studied at this time, and many people are too embarrassed to get help.

If you are worried about someone’s hoarding behaviors, it is not helpful to demand that they stop hoarding or to try to force them to give up their collections. Being exposed and forced to make changes is likely to be frightening and so shameful that they will be too overwhelmed and upset to take action. Instead, offer extra support and reassurance, and be sure to advocate for your own needs if you live with some whose collecting behaviors are making the environment unsafe or unsanitary.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder Affects up to 16 Million People

July 11, 2014

A little known mental disorder marked by episodes of unwarranted anger is more common than previously thought, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found. Depending upon how broadly it’s defined, intermittent explosive disorder (IED) affects as many as 7.3% of adults – 11.5-16 million people – in their lifetimes.

People with IED may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. Typically beginning in the early teens, the disorder often precedes – and may predispose for – later depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

To be diagnosed with IED, and individual must have had three episodes of impulsive aggressiveness “grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressor,” at any time in their life, according to the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual. The person must have “all of a sudden lost control and broke or smashed something worth more than a few dollars… hit or tried to hurt someone… or threatened to hit or hurt someone.”

People who had three such episodes within the space of one year – a more narrowly defined subgroup – were found to have a much more persistent and severe disorder, particularly if they attacked both people and property. Affecting nearly 4% of adults within any given year – 5.9-8.5 million people – the disorder leads to a mean of 43 attacks over the course of a lifetime and is associated with substantial functional impairment.

Evidence suggests that IED might predispose toward depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse disorders by increasing stressful life experiences, such as financial difficulties and divorce. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from IED, contact Soundside Wellness Consultants.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

February 28, 2014

Childhood can and should be a time of wonder and discovery, when parents nurture, protect and care for the precious gifts of life they have brought into the world. But for children of alcoholic parents, life often is filled with shame, suffering, and fear. These children may find themselves trapped by the same disease that affected their parents and grandparents, unless there is outside intervention from caring adults in their lives.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, children of alcohol-addicted parents can suffer from physical illness and injury, emotional disturbances, educational deficits, and behavior problems. Perhaps most troubling, however, is the fact that children of alcoholics (COAs) are two to four times more likely to become problem drinkers and continue the addictive practices of their parents, with similar devastating consequences.

SAMHSA urges every adult to learn about the needs of COAs and the simple actions they can take to help COAs develop into healthy adults. We know that COAs are at greater risk for substance abuse problems in their own lives. But we also know what to do to help them avoid repeating their families’ problems. We can break the generational cycle of alcoholism in families.

That’s good news for the millions of children in the United States who live in households in which one or both parents have been actively alcohol dependent in the past. Experts say COAs can be helped, whether or not the alcohol-abusing adults in their families receive treatment. Adult relatives, older siblings, and other adults who have contact with COAs at school, in the community, through faith-based organizations, and through health and social services agencies do not need formal training or special skills to be caring and supportive.

The help a child of an alcoholic, one must take that first step – by showing you care. Since research shows that one in four children lives in a family with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, many adults will not have to look far to find a child to help.

Almost every community has resources to help make a difference in the lives of COAs. Services such as educational support groups and counseling are widespread. A free publication, It’s Not Your Fault is available from SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, offers important insights and resources for adults who want to help. For more information, call 1-800-729-6686 or


What To Do When Depression Enters A Relationship

June 26, 2013

The pressure of being in a relationship can feel overwhelming to someone living with depression. When you’re struggling with an illness that makes you tired, sad, and generally disinterested in life, often the last thing on your mind is the needs of others. Equally frustrating and emotionally draining is trying to maintain a relationship with someone who’s depressed. It’s hurtful and confusing when loved ones increasingly isolate themselves, pull away, and reject others’ efforts to help.

All of these feelings and reactions can damage relationships, whether they’re with spouses, partners, children, or friends. It can test even the most secure of relationships. The good news is that depression is very treatable, and by taking the appropriate steps to combat the illness, your relationship can survive.

Steps to Overcome Depression and Keep Your Relationship Healthy

The most important step toward successful recovery is to seek treatment. With the appropriate combination of “talk” therapy and medication, people with depression can achieve remission (virtual elimination) of symptoms and reconnect with life and with relationships.

If You Are Experiencing Symptoms Of Depression: Share your feelings with others as much as possible. Your reluctance to talk about how you feel only creates distance between you and your loved ones. It’s especially important to keep the lines of communication open during trying times. Let your partner know that you still find him or her attractive. An affectionate touch and a few reassuring words can mean a lot, even if you don’t feel inclined toward more intimate relations.

Consider couples or family counseling. Your willingness to talk about your relationship and how it may be affected by depression speaks volumes to family members and loved ones about their importance in your life.

Keep working toward recovery. Today’s treatment options make that more realistic than ever.

To resolve all your symptoms, a combination of medication and “talk” therapy may be recommended. Your physician will help you determine the right levels of medication and how long you should stay on it.

If You Are In A Relationship With Someone Experiencing Depression: Remember, your role is to offer support and encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Encourage your partner not to settle for partial improvement and explain that with the right treatment, people with depression can regain their lives.

Although you may be prepared to do anything and everything to help, don’t try to take over the life of someone who is depressed. Your loved one may seem overwhelmed, incapable, or frustrated, but you can’t reconstruct his or her life.

Remember that depression is a real illness that should be taken seriously. Don’t belittle the person by saying things such as, “snap out of it,” “get over it” or “everyone feels down now and then.” Try your best to understand the illness.

Recognize that depression is not rational. It is painful to be rejected, scorned, or ignored, but this may be how your loved one responds to your efforts to help.

For more information contact Soundside Wellness Consultants.

What Is Mental Illness?

June 7, 2013

Mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thinking, perception, and behavior. If these disturbances significantly impair a person’s ability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines, then he or she should immediately seek proper treatment with a mental health professional. With the proper care and treatment, a person can recover and resume normal activities.

Many mental illnesses are believed to have biological causes, just like  cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but some mental disorders are caused by a person’s environment and experiences.

Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness:

  • Myth: “Young people and children don’t suffer from mental health problems.”
  • Fact: It is estimated that more than six million young people in America may suffer from a mental health disorder that severely disrupts their ability to function at home, in school, or in their community.
  • Myth: “People who need psychiatric care should be locked away in institutions.”
  • Fact: Today most people can lead productive lives within their communities thanks to a variety of supports, programs, and/or medications.
  • Myth: “A person who has had a mental illness can never be normal.”
  • Fact: People with mental illnesses can recover and resume normal activities.
  • Myth: “Mentally ill people are dangerous.”
  • Fact: The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. In the cases when violence does occur, the incidents typically result from the same reasons as with the general public, such as feeling threatened or excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Myth: “People with mental illnesses can work low-level jobs but aren’t suited for really important or responsible positions.”
  • Fact: People with mental illnesses, like everyone else, have the potential to work at any level depending on their own abilities, experience and motivation.

Mood Swings Can Affect Relationships

April 30, 2013

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is characterized by mood swings so severe that a person’s relationships, occupation, and overall ability to function can be severely compromised.

The US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says symptoms typically include episodes of extreme euphoria, followed by episodes of extreme sadness, depression or anger – but often with temperate periods in between. Other signs of bipolar disorder include insomnia or sleeping too much, drastic weight loss or gain, difficulty concentrating, anxiousness, and thoughts of suicide.

The disorder usually can be controlled with prescription medications – frequently lithium – that minimize the emotional swings. Treatments are most effective if they are taken continuously, not intermittently, the NIMH says.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is often difficult to recognize because its symptoms may appear to be part of another illness or attributed to other problems such as substance abuse, poor school performance, or trouble int he workplace. Here are some of the common symptoms of mania and depression.

Some Symptoms of Mania – The symptoms of mania, which can last up to three months if untreated include:

  • excessive energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid talking.
  • extreme “high” or euphoric feelings – a person may feel “on top of the world” and nothing, including bad news or tragic events, can change this “happiness”.
  • unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability and powers. A person may experience feelings of exaggerated confidence or unwarranted optimism. This can lead to over ambitious work plans.

Some Symptoms of Depression – Some people experience periods of normal mood and behavior following a manic phase; however, the depressive phase will eventually appear. Symptoms of depression include:

  • persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood.
  • sleeping too much or too little, middle-of-the night or early morning waking.
  • reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain.
  • fatigue or loss of energy, feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.

If you or a family member are experiencing severe mood swings or any of the aforementioned symptoms, please seek help from a psychological healthcare professional right away.

Youth Mental Health Problems

April 4, 2013

Approximately 20% – or about 11 million – of young people aged 9-17 have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral health disorder, according to the Association of Psychiatric Health Systems. From 9%-13% of children experience serious mental or emotional problems that substantially interfere with their functioning in school, at home, and in the community.

Unfortunately, only 11% of young people receive treatment for any kind of mental illness. Many times their conditions are overlooked, denied or misinterpreted.

Mental health problems are real, painful and can be severe. They can lead to school failure, loss of friends, or family conflict. Some of the signs that may point to a possible problem are listed below. Answer yes or no to the ones that apply to your teen. The more “yes” answers you tally up, the higher the likelihood your teen is having a mental health problem.

Is Your Teen…

  • very angry most of the time?
  • crying a lot or overreacting to things?
  • feeling worthless?
  • feeling guilty?
  • anxious or worried more than other young people?
  • grieving overly long or having difficulty resuming daily life activities after a loss or death?
  • extremely fearful, expressing unexplained fears or more fears than most kids?
  • constantly concerned about physical problems?
  • constantly concerned about appearance?
  • frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control?

Has Your Teen’s Behavior Changed Dramatically Recently? For example, has s/he…

  • experienced a big drop in grades overall?
  • lost interest in things usually enjoyed?
  • had a noticeable change in eating or sleeping habits?
  • started avoiding friends or family to be alone all the time?
  • expressed feelings that life is too hard to handle?
  • started daydreaming constantly and putting off doing necessary tasks?
  • talked about suicide?
  • said s/he hears voices that cannot be explained?

Is Your Teen Experiencing…

  • poor concentration?
  • an inability to make decisions?
  • an inability to sit still?
  • worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad”?
  • persistent nightmares?
  • the need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day?
  • thoughts that occur almost too fast to follow or process?

Does Your Teen…

  • use alcohol or other drugs?
  • eat large amounts of food and then force vomiting, abuse laxatives or take enemas to avoid weight gain?
  • continue to diet or exercise obsessively although bone-thin?
  • often hurt other people, destroy property or break the law?
  • do things that can be life threatening?

If your child experiences even a few of these signs contact Soundside Wellness Consultants or at least contact your teen’s school psychologist, social worker, student assistance counselor, nurse or guidance counselor to discuss your concerns.